Andrea Michael and The Book of Us
Andrea Michael writes books to explore complicated relationships. Having trained in using writing for therapy, she really believes in the magic of stories to change your life. Failing that, sparkling wine and obnoxious sing-a-longs also do the trick.
Andrea works in content marketing, and runs Writing for Wellbeing workshops. She lives in Hertfordshire with her fiancé and their crazy cat, and can be found reading in a comfy corner or digging something at the allotment.
You may also know her from her romantic comedies written as A L Michael.
She had to be able to look back at this as a time that was sacred, magical. There would be pain enough later.
Cass and Loll used to be inseparable. They met at university and they made sense, like two halves of a whole. They had planned their lives around each other, writing down their dreams in The Big Book of Our Life – the things they wanted to achieve, the places they’d go after they finished university. But then one night changed everything.
Seven years later, Loll receives a letter from her old friend. The coming year will be the year they both turn 30, but Loll might be making it to 30 alone. Cass has cancer. She wants to know if Loll still has The Big Book as her dying wish is to do everything they had planned. Little does Loll know that there is one big difference: Veronica, Cass’s six-year-old daughter, will be coming with them.
Time is ticking for Cass, who is desperate to make lasting memories for her young daughter and ensure that she’s leaving her in good hands. But how do you say goodbye to those you love most in the world?
An emotional and uplifting novel of friendship, love and the family you choose. Perfect for fans of Gill Childs, Amanda Prowse and Jojo Moyes.
Let’s Place Andrea Under the Spotlight!
Tell us a little about yourself and your books, including the genre(s) you write in.
I used to write romantic comedies, but now I’ve moved into book club fiction/‘women’s fiction (which is a horrible name for a genre!) My thirteenth book came out in March, and it’s called The Book of Us. I moved away from romance to write about the importance of friendship, and those people we love who make us who we are. It’s about a terrible betrayal in a friendship, and forgiving each other years later to go on a big trip when one of the friends is sick. The paperback is out in June.
What project are you working on now?
My WIP at the moment is called The Things The Matter (although that’s now the fifth title it’s had!) and it’s about a marriage in trouble.
After being a total teen love story, the characters Taz and Daniel are trying to figure out how to make their marriage work as adults, wondering if they got together too young, and whether they still want the same things. It also features the Scottish Highlands and alpacas!
How do you choose the genre(s) you write in?
I trained at university in writing fiction and I suppose the expectation was always that I’d write literary fiction, which is what my first novel was. After that I wrote a romantic comedy, just for myself, for fun, and ended up doing that for ten years!
After that I felt like I didn’t want to write a love story, I’d become a bit trapped by the tropes and rules of the genre, so I moved into ‘book club fiction’ where the expectations are a little looser (you don’t need to have a happy ever after, and I quite prefer a bittersweet ending).
Is there any particular author or book that’s influenced you, either growing up or as an adult?
When I was writing romantic comedies, I was absolutely obsessed with Mhairi Mcfarlane and Sarra Manning. I wanted to write books about strong, interesting, funny women, surrounded by great friends, who got the things they deserved in the end. That’s still true in the books I write now.
My absolute favourite book is Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafron and whenever I reread it I’m always stunned by how perfect it is, how the themes and the descriptions and the stories echo each other. How the characters are painted so perfectly so quickly, and how it still manages to make me laugh with the dialogue. The idea of creating something that perfect is what drives me to keep writing.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences?
In The Book of Us a lot of the places are ones I’ve visited. In Australia they visit a surf camp and I did that when I went travelling alone after university.
Similarly in my previous books, Prosecco and Promises was set on an island off the coast of Naples, and Nice Day for a White Wedding was set in Lake Garda.
I collect places that I’m interested in, and can see a story unfolding. The next book I’ll be working on is going to be set in Symi in Greece.
In terms of experiences in real life, it’s often just an extension of something that’s sparked my interest. For Cass and Loll in The Book of Us, it’s a friendship where they are set in their roles right from the beginning. Loll is the shy, awkward one and Cass is the life of the party.
I think when I was younger I felt like I fit very much into Loll’s space in those relationships, but I’ve had friends who I’ve grown up with, and we’ve all been allowed to grow and change, which I’m really grateful for. If we hadn’t, we may have ended up like Cass and Loll.
How do you come up with your titles?
I often don’t! I choose titles but they’re very rarely picked by the publisher for the final product.
The Book of Us went through about 8 different titles in the journey from first draft, to agent, to editor, to published!
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m afraid with everything but writing I’m pretty mediocre. Average baker, average cook, less than average guitar player.
I’ve recently become a bit of a crafter making bits and bobs for my wedding, but it mostly looks like stuff a kid would make!
You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which four authors would you invite (alive or dead)?
Neil Gaiman, Marian Keyes, Lindsay Kelk, Chuck Wendig, mainly just because they all seem really fun and I bet the chat would be great.
What are five words that describe your writing process?
Fluttery, instinctive, semi-planned, open, ongoing
Which would you rather do: Never write another story or never read another book?
I think I’d be a terrible writer if I couldn’t read, but writing is how I make sense of the world. If I stopped, I’d go insane.
What is the funniest typo or error you’ve ever written?
No funny ones I’m afraid! I’m usually too scared to notice them, I just want to fix them ASAP!
How do you come up with names for your characters?
They usually appear when I’m thinking about the story right at the beginning.
It’s usually the second names I’m rubbish at, and the surrounding characters always end up starting with the same letter – which is confusing!
Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
My partner is great at helping me work out plot points and helps me with the book, even though he’s not a writer or reader. But he’s always cheering me on.
My mum is also a big supporter and always buys the books and recommends them to her book club!
What is your most favourite word and why?
Petrichor – the smell of rain on the ground. I just love that there’s a word for that.
What is your least favourite word and why?
Moist. Should never be used unless referencing a particularly good cake. Bleugh.
You can find Andrea in the following places:
Facebook: Andrea Michael Facebook
Twitter: Andrea Michael Twitter
Instagram:Andrea Michael Instagram